Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today opposed an effort by Congress to put off finalizing a federal budget for six months. Rather than completing work on next year's budget before the current fiscal year ends on September 30, the House passed H.J.Res. 117, a continuing resolution which extends discretionary spending until the election is over and a new Congress is in place. Simpson, who chairs the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, voted against the CR, expressing his continued frustration at Congress's inability to complete its work.
"In spite of the fact that September 30 comes at the same time each year, Congress continually fails to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to fund government operations through the regular process," said Simpson. "When we fail to pass annual appropriations bills, we fail to look critically at how agencies spend taxpayer dollars and lose opportunities to make government work better. It is time that we take the long-term CR off the table as a viable alternative to meeting our constitutional obligation."
The continuing resolution funds discretionary government programs at current levels through March 27, 2013, with a slight across-the-board increase to meet the overall spending level previously agreed to in the Budget Control Act. The House Appropriations Committee has passed all but one FY13 appropriations bill in committee, and seven bills have passed on the House floor.
"Let me be clear, shutting down the government is not an option," said Simpson. "But making it a regular practice to fund government operations through continuing resolutions is also an abdication of Congress's oversight responsibilities. I'm frustrated that Congress has become satisfied with simply kicking the can down the road. We have run out of road. It's time to stop hiding our heads in the sand and start addressing the challenges facing our country."
In spite of Simpson's opposition, H.J.Res 117 passed the House by a vote of 329-91. The measure is expected to be taken up by the Senate in the coming days.